IAAF under fire as further Russian doping allegations surface

Tue Jan 12, 2016 6:57pm EST
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LONDON (Reuters) - Athletics' governing body came under renewed fire on Tuesday following disclosures that top officials were aware of a serious doping problem among Russian athletes as far back as 2009 and appeared to work with the country's federation to minimize the publicity surrounding it.

The Associated Press published a copy of a letter from Pierre Weiss, then the general secretary of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), to Valentin Balakhnichev, the former Russian athletics president who was banned from the sport for life last week.

In the letter, dated Oct. 14, 2009, Weiss described the results of blood tests taken at that year's world championships in Berlin and the world half-marathon championships in Birmingham, England.

"Unfortunately I do not have good news regarding the blood parameter levels of the Russian athletes in Berlin. Again they were extremely high, and again much more so than any other country competing," Weiss wrote.

Referring to the blood levels of Russian athletes in Birmingham, Weiss said two athletes "recorded some of the highest values ever seen since the IAAF started testing".

"Not only are these athletes cheating their fellow competitors but at these levels are putting their health and even their own lives in very serious danger."

In response to questions about the AP report, the IAAF told Reuters that the letters did not show any evidence of wrong-doing and that it followed correct procedures in all the cases mentioned.

Abnormal blood levels are not in themselves enough for an athlete to be punished for an anti-doping offence but are widely held to be an indicator of possible performance-enhancing drug use.

Athletics was plunged into crisis at the end of last year after an initial report by the independent commission of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) detailed systematic, state-sponsored doping and related corruption in Russia.   Continued...

A view shows a plaque at the IAAF (The International Association of Athletics Federations) headquarters in Monaco November 4, 2015. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard